Based on the novel by Becky Albertalli, the coming-of-age romance in Love, Simon was quite the progressive film. It’s a high school drama that features the titular Simon as a closesed gay teen trying to making his way to graduation without being public about his sexuality. But when someone at his school anonymously confesses his homosexuality to him via email, Simon may find himself coming out of the closet sooner when another student discovers these emails and blackmails him into seeking romantic guidance. Simon tries to do his best to give advice but he can only hide for so long before he finds he must be open and honest with himself.
Directed by Greg Berlanti (Life As We Know It), Love, Simon was such a touching picture that managed to be a lot of things. It embraced the awkwardness of coming to terms with your sexuality balanced with the anxiety of being open with fears of not being accepted. It’s just as much a palpable teen drama as it was a strong step forward in better representation of gay characters. And, thankfully, there’s more films in this same style. Some of them involve gay characters and some don’t but they all have a strong coming-of-age story that should appeal to any teen, regardless of sexuality. Check out these ten films that are similar to the drama and romance of Love, Simon.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Based on the novel of the same name by Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower tells the tale of the awkward teen Charlie. He has become used to the life of always hanging back and watching everyone else in high school have a fun time. All that is about to change when meets the more eccentric students of Sam and her stepbrother Patrick. Charlie’s meeting of such people makes his life turn around with friendship and love. But how long can such happiness continue when college looms ever closer? Directed by Stephen Chbosky (Wonder), this coming of age drama features an all-star cast of Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Mae Whitman, Kate Walsh, Dylan McDermott, Joan Cusack, and Paul Rudd.
The Half of It
High school student Ellie Chu mostly keeps to herself in her small town of Squahamish. The only times she seems to interact with her peers is to take their money for doing their homework. But then the student of Paul comes knocking and has a much different request. He wants some pointers on how to hook up with a woman he has a crush on in school. Ellie reluctantly accepts but may find herself falling in love with the woman she’s trying to set Paul up with. Written and directed by Alice Wu (Saving Face), this teen drama with lesbian romance stars Leah Lewis, Daniel Diemer, and Alexxis Lemire.
Within high school social circles, the designation of DUFF refers to the Designated Ugly Fat Friend. The girl who seems to have been dealt this title is Bianca, the quirky high school senior who enjoys movies and can’t seem to land a date. Seeking to finally find love, she enlists the help of the top jock Wesley to improve her social status and topple over the high school hierarchy. But could a DUFF and a jock also fall in love? Directed by Ari Sandel (When We First Met) and based on the novel of the same name by Kody Keplinger, the casting includes Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Bianca Santos, Skyler Samuels, Romany Malco, Ken Jeong, and Allison Janney.
Based on the novel of the same title by John Green, Paper Towns follows one shy teen in an unorthodox situation. The shy one is Quentin, a quiet student, who didn’t expect that one night the popular student of Margo would come through his window with a request. Margo, having been betrayed by her friends, is seeking to get revenge on those who wronged her and enlists the help of Quentin. Things get even more strange when Margo goes missing the following day. It is now up to Quentin and his friends to track the clues that will lead to the popular girl that he happens to fancy. Directed by Jake Schreier (Robot & Frank), this teen drama stars Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Halston Sage, Austin Abrams, and Justice Smith.
Sometimes hiding who you are extends far past high school and can threaten the holidays in Happiest Season. The film centers around the couple of Abby and Harper, a lesiban couple that are seeking to spend Christmas together at Harper’s family home. However, Harper has yet to tell her family that she is gay, given that her father is a local politician running for re-election and her mother is a snoopy conservative. During their visit, the two try to keep their love a secret but find it even harder to do with such a chaotic household and their desires bubbling amid putting on an act. But there may be more than one shocking revelation at their holiday get-together that they didn’t count on happening. Directed and co-written by Clea DuVall (The Intervention), this touching homecoming story of romantic tension and comedy features an all-star ensemble that includes Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Dan Levy, Mary Holland, Victor Garber, and Mary Steenburgen.
The Hate U Give
Based on the book by Angie Thomas, The Hate U Gives follows the conflicted life of Starr Carter. She finds that her home life and school life are much different. While her neighborhood is a poor one, her school is filled with the wealthy white people. She tries to keep both separate but finds that she cannot do so after witnessing the horrific police shooting of her childhood friend. The shooting divides the community and Starr finds herself having to take a stand for what she believes in before more violence occurs. Directed by George Tillman Jr. (Men of Honor), this tragic teen drama that focuses on police brutality and racism stars Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, K.J. Apa, Sabrina Carpenter, Common, and Anthony Mackie.
Let It Snow (2019)
It’s Christmas time in Laurel, Illinois and all the high school students are finding ways to celebrate the season. Some are seeking parties, others blooming friendships, while others are finding love amid the snowfall. When that snowfall turns into a snowstorm, many of the teenagers find themselves forced closer together and admitting their feelings they may be afraid of. Directed by Luke Snellin (Wanderlust) and based on the novel anthology by John Green, Lauren Myracle, and Maureen Johnson, this teen romance with an same-sex relationships stars Isabela Merced, Shameik Moore, Kiernan Shipka, Odeya Rush, Liv Hewson, Mitchell Hope, Jacob Batalon, and Joan Cusack.
Alex Truelove is a high school student who soon finds himself falling for his friend Claire and is hoping that they can have sex. During this time, Alex also meets the openly-gay Elliot that changes his outlook on life. Soon, Alex finds himself questioning his sexuality in this love triangle of teenagers who can’t quite decide how they want to proceed when it comes to losing their virginity. Directed by Craig Johnson (The Skeleton Twins, Winston), this teen romance stars Daniel Doheny, Antonio Marziale, Madeline Weinstein, Joanna Adler, William Ragsdale, and Daniel Zolghadri.
To All The Boys I’ve Ever Loved
Based on the book trilogy by Jenny Han, To All The Boys I’ve Ever Loved follows the personal life of high school junior Lara Jean Covey. Being the shy girl in school, she has had many crushes but never worked up the courage to ask any out. Instead, she chose to write love letters to them that will never be sent. Her latest crush, however, just happens to be the boy who was previously dating her older sister. But her love life is complicated when her letters are discovered and spread around the school. Directed by Susan Johnson (Carrie Pilby), this coming-of-age romantic comedy stars Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Janel Parrish, Anna Cathcart, Andrew Bachelor, Trezzo Mahoro, Madeleine Arthur, Emilija Baranac, Israel Broussard, and John Corbett. The other novels in the series were also adapted into films with 2020’s To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You and 2021’s To All the Boys: Always and Forever.
For those seeking a coming-of-age film where secrets are more dangerous than freeing, Assassination Nation is a more provocative, exaggerated, and violent take on the nature of high school gossip. The film takes place in a suburban community that is threatened when slander pollutes their social media, leading to spilled secrets and vicious lies that spread like wildfire. When the whole town finds the subject of shocking revelations, murder and mobs break out, threatening to turn this suburban community into a nightmare of bloody rage. Written and directed by Sam Levinson (Euphoria), this brutal satire on online gossip stars Odessa Young, Suki Waterhouse, Hari Nef, Abra, Anika Noni Rose, Colman Domingo, Maude Apatow, Bill Skarsgård, Joel McHale, and Bella Thorne.